It’s not often that Jerry and I find a place we love so much that we start looking at real estate (at least rentals) to see if maybe we could live there for a few months. Bordeaux was one of those places.
Bordeaux has many of the finest qualities of Paris but without the Parisians – the folks in Bordeaux are warm and welcoming. It’s a city that was designed with a lot of forethought. There are wide promenades all along the river with plenty of room for bicycles, runners, skateboarders and strollers, with room to spare. Those promenades are interspersed with big beautiful flower gardens.
We also found in Bordeaux the best art supply store we’ve ever entered anywhere; better than Sennelier in Paris, better than Pearl in San Francisco…well, just the BEST. Here’s the link: www.lefranc-bourgeois.com
There’s no denying that Bordeaux is best known for its wines. That’s what brought Dewey Markham, Jr., a native New Yorker, to the area twenty years ago. He was writing a book about the 1855 list of best wines and how wines are judged in Europe. He fell in love with Bordeaux, married a “local girl” here and is raising two bilingual children. He is a delightful man, with a great sense of humor and none of the pomp or snobbery one tends to expect of someone so steeped in the knowledge of wine.
We spent a delightful day with Dewey visiting two chateau (that’s what they call wineries here.) As we drove to the first, Chateau Giscours, Dewey explained why Bordeaux has the perfect conditions for wine growing. Irrigation is not allowed in Europe so the soil and weather must be perfect.
The area used to be inundated with water but the French invited the Dutch to come to Bordeaux and help them drain the land. This left the land with a thick layer of gravel on top and clay soil on the bottom – ideal for the ripening of the grapes.
The second chateau we visited was Lagrange, which is owned by, would you believe, Suntory. We liked the white wine (rare to have a white Bordeaux but it was delicious – reminded me of a viognier) and one of the Cabernet Sauvignons.
Jerry found the attractiveness of the young French women who were our chateau guides to be quite distracting. Ah, those French women….they have that je ne sais quoi!
Did you know that after the barrels are used for wine for three to five years, they are sent to Scotland or Ireland to be used for whisky?
– Paula Rath